Occasionally, we open up a septic tank to find wastewater that just doesn’t look quite right. There could be a rainbow of colored film, black liquids, white liquids, and anything in between. Normal, domestic wastewater doesn’t cause this; pouring oil, gasoline, paint, paint thinner, and other items does. We’ve seen it all!
For this very reason, waste haulers permitted to dump at the San Antonio Water System Dos Rios treatment plant are screened before unloading vacuum trucks. If a load is questionable, a sample must be taken first. If the sample does not pass, the truck must be dumped elsewhere. This usually costs thousands of dollars in lost time, new dump fees, and an inoperable truck so wastewater can be legally dumped elsewhere.
Homeowners are responsible for the waste in their septic tanks. This is one reason why each pumping is issued a manifest ticket for dumping at the treatment plant. However, sometimes we take a different approach if we preemptively diagnose polluted wastewater. If we suspect a questionable substance in a septic tank, we test a sample at the treatment plant before pumping. If the sample does not pass, the owner is required to find a waste hauler that is permitted to haul and dump the specific chemical found in their tank. It still costs the homeowner additional fees, but not nearly as much if we didn’t catch it sooner.
Moral of the story: don’t dump anything down the drains that your body can’t naturally consume.